Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced Tuesday to 30 to 60 years in prison on 45 counts of child sex abuse.
The sentence will put the 68-year-old Sandusky in prison "for the rest of your life," Judge John Cleland told him.
Sandusky was found guilty in June of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, convicted of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period. Witnesses said Sandusky used the charitable organization he founded for troubled children as his personal hunting ground to find and groom boys to become his victims.
His arrest 11 months ago, and the details that came out during his trial over the summer, transformed Sandusky's public image from a college coach who had been widely admired for his work with The Second Mile charity into that of a reviled pervert who preyed on the very youngsters who sought his help.
At his sentencing Tuesday, a thinner Sandusky in a red prison jumpsuit and white sneakers, continued to assert his innocence.
"I didn't do these alleged disgusting acts," Sandusky said in an 18-minute speech that was at times rambling, but one he said came from his heart. "I've been confined to a small room. I meditate, eat, read, write, all in that room."
"Doesn't matter what you look at, it's what you see. I see visits ... family and friends ... I see me throwing thousands of kids up in the air, hundreds of water balloon baths," he continued. "You find out who's with you in the fourth quarter. Who'll go through the hurt and the pain, and get you where you want to go."
Eight of the boys he was found guilty of molesting testified at his trial, describing a range of abuse that included fondling, oral sex and anal intercourse. One of the prosecution's star witnesses, former graduate assistant Mike McQueary, testified that he saw Sandusky raping a boy in a locker room shower.
Among the three victims who spoke at Tuesday's sentencing was a young man who said he was 11 when Sandusky groped him in a shower in 1998. He said Sandusky is in denial and should "stop coming up with excuses."
"I've been left with deep painful wounds that you caused and had been buried in the garden of my heart for many years," he said.
Another man said he was 13 when, in 2001, Sandusky lured him into a Penn State sauna and then a shower and then forced him to touch the ex-coach.
"I am troubled with flashbacks of his naked body, something that will never be erased from my memory," he said. "Jerry has harmed children, of which I am one of them."
Sandusky has consistently maintained his innocence and plans to appeal. One element of the appeal is expected to be a claim that the defense did not have time to adequately prepare for trial. Sandusky was charged in November, following a lengthy investigation.
Under Pennsylvania law, Sandusky cannot be released on parole before the minimum term is up.
"The tragedy of this crime is that it's a story of betrayal. The most obvious aspect is your betrayal of 10 children," Cleland told Sandusky. "I'm not going to sentence you to centuries in prison, although the law will permit that." Still, Cleland said, he expected Sandusky to die in prison.
Before sentencing, Cleland designated Sandusky as a sexually violent predator under the state's Megan's Law. The label essentially has no effect on Sandusky, since its requirement is lifetime registration after a convict is released from prison.
In sentencing the ex-coach, Cleland called Sandusky dangerous, saying, "You abused the trust of those who trusted you."
The scandal brought devastation in State College that will take years to fully assess, as Sandusky's victims are pressing civil claims and a January trial is pending for Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, two university administrators charged with failing to properly report suspicions about Sandusky and lying to the grand jury that investigated him.
Soon after the three were arrested in November, the board of trustees fired Paterno, the school's most famous figure and a man who won two national college football championships in the 1980s. Paterno died of lung cancer in January.
Over the summer, an investigation commissioned by the university and led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh concluded that Paterno and other top officials covered up allegations against Sandusky for years to avoid bad publicity.
The scandal also toppled university President Graham Spanier and led to crippling NCAA sanctions against the football team that included a $60 million fine, a ban on postseason play and a reduction in the number of football scholarships the school can award. The NCAA also erased 14 years of victories for Paterno, stripping him of his standing as major college football's winningest coach.
At least four young men have sued Penn State over the way the university responded to disturbing complaints about Sandusky.
Eight legal teams representing at least 20 young men have surfaced, and the school recently announced an effort to settle as many claims as possible by the end of the year.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson released a statement shortly after the sentence was handed down.
"Our thoughts today, as they have been for the last year, go out to the victims of Jerry Sandusky's abuse," Erickson said. "While today's sentence cannot erase what has happened, hopefully it will provide comfort to those affected by these horrible events."
The third victim who spoke had testified that he was raped over the course of years by Sandusky, including on team trips to bowl games in Texas and Florida.
"I want you to know I don't forgive you and I don't know if I will ever forgive you," he said. "My only regret is that I didn't come forward sooner."